Ayasofya Hamam Istanbul Turkey
Tel no: 0212 5173535
I am visiting a hamam today.One of the major attractions on my ‘To do List.’ I almost walked into one both at Canakkale & at Eceabat but somehow they did not seem inviting enough. This is also my last day in Istanbul. After much looking around I have decided on the Ayasofya Hurrem Sultan Hamami. It is housed in a wing of the Ayasofya complex & being a part of the historic building has the same beautiful architecture. This hamam was built during the Ottoman period – in 1556. It has lately been acquired & renovated by a business house that appears to fully comprehend the money that could be made off such a venture. From the outside it has traditional thick stone walls topped by a cupola. I was warned about the cost but decided to check it out never the less.
I wear the plastic shoe covers placed at the entrance & walk inside. The ambience is fairy like & ethereal. White unstained marble floors & slabs. Snow white walls reaching up to the domed ceiling with natural light flitting in from the skies. There is soft music, a mild fragrance & Turkish girls in the sheerest of sheers. I have to take an appointment as the staff is busy attending to a wedding party. This has long been a Turkish cultural tradition. Matrons would visit the place with daughters in tow hoping to fix a match.
This is what I love about Turkey.This peculiar mix of East & West.
I opt for a ‘Pir i Pak’ ( full cleaning) which is essentially a traditional body scrub along with a bubble wash massage. It will be 70 euros/ 35 minutes – thank you. I am given a pestamal – a traditional silk bath wrap & am led to a steaming hamam that has a golden plated Ottoman style bath bowl. The attendant brings along a wooden comb, a scrubber especial to the skin type, special olive oil soap, shampoo, conditioner & body lotion. Clothes removed & placed inside a locker that has an ornate filigree carved wooden screen I am quite ready to step into the bath. The pores – quite literally – open up after the scrub. The amount of skin dirt scrubbed off so gently & diligently is unbelievable. You are led by the hand & made to lie on a hot white marble slab.This is for the bubble bath – the billowing bubble bag merely grazing you like a feather. Hair shampooed & conditioned. Massage complete, the lady walks you through a maze of marbled corridors into an immense room that has glazed glass, Turkish rugs, lamps & Ottoman era artifacts. Everything beautiful & minimal. Seated comfortably you are handed a glass of fruit sherbet & asked to relax & enjoy as long as you wish
An incredible experience indeed